Mick Jagger, Pope Benedict and me
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that people love to see themselves, elegantly depicted, through the eyes of others.
By Robert Kilborn
I recently performed a modest service for Anthony Jenkins, the esteemed illustrator, cartoonist, and occasional writer who frolicked, gambolled, and capered at Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, for nearly 40 years.
As a graphic thank you for my bijou service to him, Anthony surprised me with the unexpected and delightful gift of the image below, based on my LinkedIn profile photo. He’s much better known for his caricatures of Stephen Harper, Barack Obama, Mick Jagger, Alice Munro, and Pope Benedict.
There’s something uncanny about an artist who can capture a person’s spirit in a few—deceptively simple—penstrokes. We’ve all seen caricatures where we think: “Yeah, I guess it kinda sorta looks like him/her/it.” But how does hand-eye-heart coordination work in the brain of someone with such a gift as Jenkins possesses? How does Paul McCartney write songs?
Take a look at these unerringly brilliant and expressive images of Putin, Einstein, Castro, and Ray Charles. In each portrait, where the organization of detail seems so casual, we discern a spontaneously felt, yet profoundly controlled, evocation of a spirit:
Anthony Jenkins now lives the life of a country squire on 17 verdant acres in rural, south-central Ontario. There, surrounded by rolling, tree-covered hills, and close to the burbling streams and creeks which form the headwaters of three rivers, he continues to draw and paint. I hear that businesspeople and others still hire him to immortalize them in his less-is-more minimal line images, or in his more fully realized “Corporate Portrait” stylizations, often in full colour. Visit Anthony’s website to experience the full range of his illustrations, caricatures, and paintings: www.jenkinsdraws.com.
This talented and generous man told the story of my life in a few telling, yet elegant, lines. Such an unasked for act of magnanimity—combined with effortless mastery—reveals character, don’t you think? I’m now an Anthony Jenkins caricature for life.
So that future generations will know us, Montreal’s esteemed McCord Museum of Canadian History has archived a number of Jenkins creations. Perhaps, in his lifetime, the McCord will host an exhibition of Jenkins’s work, a selection from the thousands of images he has created during his 40+ year career?
Robert Kilborn writes friction, nonfriction, thrillosophical essays, articles, reviews, and jeux d’esprit. He started out as a rock singer. At the University of British Columbia he read Literature, Philosophy, and Art History. He’s been an English teacher, a restaurant consultant, a Don Draper, and general manager of one of Canada’s leading modern dance companies, Anna Wyman Dance Theatre.